Coming to England ISBN: 9780140380811
Published by Puffin, 1997
This is an extraordinary book. Floella Benjamin and three of her siblings came to Britain in 1960 to join her parents and another brother and sister who had come from Trinidad years before. Expecting welcome and joy, she found the cold, the cramped conditions and the prejudice very hard to bear. But Marmie, a remarkable woman, taught her children pride and dignity and not a little toughness, and she and Dardie pulled them through. The first half of the book is a lyrical description of the family's life in Trinidad, followed by a harrowing time when Marmie has left for London, taking the two youngest children with her. The four remaining children are farmed out for fifteen months with people who treat them like servants. A wonderful journey on a ship follows, during which the Benjamin children cause ructions on the high seas. But the real problems start when the children arrive. Among other things, Floella is told at school that she cannot swim because people of her race have an extra bone in their foot and would, therefore, sink! She is also not allowed to take home the sports trophy she has won, and there are innumerable other unkindnesses. But she and her family are competitive and high spirited, and they break down all sorts of barriers. The many full-colour watercolour illustrations are superb. The whole story is a heartening chronicle to the vitality of the human spirit. Read it!